Ask Mark …

image061-1My biggest problem with my lung disease is getting up stairs. Do you have advice on how to accomplish this a little easier?

Vicky M., Florida

Mark explains, Climbing stairs is one of the most challenging forms of exertion for most folks with breathing limitations. I know an exercise that may help you and others who wish to strengthen their leg muscles and build endurance. One method I have taught for years is simply stepping up and down from a six or eight-inch step, repeatedly, for an increasing number of repetitions or a certain length of time. Increase the time as strength, endurance and tolerance will allow. This exercise will go a long way toward helping to make actual stair climbing more manageable.

Start out with a few repetitions – even five is not too few – and try it several times a day. Gradually add repetitions until you can step up and down 50 times, using each leg to lead. As you step, lead with the right foot for half the repetitions and switch to your left foot for the other half. This will allow equal strength-building between the two legs.

Soreness with exercise is typical for folks who have poorly conditioned muscles that are put to work doing exertionally demanding tasks. The only way the soreness will reduce in severity and stop is through exercise. You place repeated and increased demand on your muscles. Go slow, easy and gently. Gradually over time they will improve.

Jerry from EFFORTS asks what stem cell therapies are FDA approved?image037-3

Mark replies, The only FDA-approved application of stem cell therapy in the USA, at this time, is for hematopoetic (bone marrow/blood) treatment purposes. That is what is stated on the FDA website. Very few investigative groups have FDA-approved studies in progress. They can show you their paperwork from the FDA to verify any claim that they are doing FDA- approved research. If a center can’t produce this paperwork, they are not FDA-approved.

There are a lot of groups doing “patient-funded” research. Those are the ones who will charge you for treatment and participation. Stay away from them. If they truly had a treatment model of rea- sonably expected potential, they would apply for FDA approval. And, they would also be likely to be able to get funding support from the National Institute of Health.

The snag in getting approval from the FDA, is not only showing the study model truly has potential benefits, but also an appropriate source of stem cells and a method of processing and handling them. Therein lies the difficulty. Many are not obtaining appropriately sourced stem cells and they are also not handling them in a manner that makes them safe, much less potentially effective.

Twenty years ago, we printed an article entitled, “Five Ways to Breathe Easier”. The advice is still valid and valuable! Those who make proactive choices seem to reduce the severity and frequency of respiratory infections.

         1.Exiscree:         The benefits of exercise include better use of oxygen by muscles, increased ability to handle stress and improved ability to ward off infection. A simple home walking program for up to 30 minutes every other day is a good way to start.

  1. Inhaled medications: 50 to 80 Percent of people using metered dose inhalers do not get the medication’s maximum This is due to improper technique in using the inhaler. Review instructions with your physician or healthcare provider.
  1. Environment: Avoid or modify environ- mental insults. Concentrate on eliminating or reducing allergens in the home – dust, mold, dander, Protect the airway when temperatures stay below 40 degrees with a scarf or warming mask. Avoid temperatures above 80 degrees and 60 percent humidity when at all possible.
  2. Breathlessness: Shortness of breath is the hallmark of chronic lung disease. Learn and practice breathing techniques as pursed lip and diaphragmatic breathing to lessen the effects of breathlessness.
  3. Early treatment: Early treatment of flare-ups (or exacerbations) is fundamental in slowing the advancement or worsening of a chronic lung condition.

Some symptoms to watch for are:image039-5

  • Productive coughing (changes in mucus color, amount, odor/taste or consistency)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Inability to sustain nutrition
  • Difficulty sleeping

Any or all of these may be warning signs for you to get help.